Explainer: From Operation Polo to Telangana Liberation Day, how Hyderabad became part of India

Hyderabad was annexed into India on September 17, 1948, ending a 235-year rule which extended from Malwa to Tiruchirapalli.
Explainer: From Operation Polo to Telangana Liberation Day, how Hyderabad became part of India
Explainer: From Operation Polo to Telangana Liberation Day, how Hyderabad became part of India
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It was 69 years ago on this day, September 17, 1948, that Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan from the Asaf Jahi dynasty, realised that he may be the last ruler of the Princely State of Hyderabad.

The Nizam's Army, along with his private militia known as the 'Razakars', had borne the brunt of five days of military conflict, termed as 'police action' by the Indian government.

With troops quickly advancing, the Nizam announced a ceasefire around 5 pm.

Thus, Hyderabad was annexed into India, ending a 235-year rule, which extended from Malwa to Tiruchirapalli.


Following the partition of India in 1947, princely states either sided with India or Pakistan. However, Osman Ali Khan wanted to stay independent, and form his own union.

Hyderabad, one of the wealthiest princely states, was ruled by a Muslim, who presided over a largely Hindu population.

Ahead of the invasion, it was also alleged that the Nizam turned a blind eye to atrocities committed by the Razakars, a private militia led by Syed Qasim Razvi (then President of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen).

During this time, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister, while Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the Home Minister.

In his book 'The Destruction of Hyderabad', senior lawyer AG Noorani details the situation ahead of the 'police action'.

"Patel hated the Nizam personally and was ideologically opposed to Hyderabad’s composite culture. Nehru’s concern was to… [defeat] Hyderabad’s secessionist venture. Patel wanted to go further. He wanted to destroy Hyderabad and its culture completely. In Hyderabad, as in Kashmir, Nehru was an ardent Indian nationalist. On both states, Vallabhbhai Patel was a strident Hindu nationalist.”

On September 13, personnel of the Indian Armed Forces began 'Operation Polo.'

After a five-day operation, the Nizam lost power and surrendered, as his army was quickly defeated.

However, soon after the operation, reports began suggesting that several Muslims were looted, raped and slaughtered, allegedly by Hindus and by soldiers.

To investigate the matter, Nehru set up the Sunderlal Committee.

The Committee found most of the claims to be true, but also criticised the Razakars for atrocities that were committed.

"Almost everywhere in the effected (sic) areas communal frenzy did not exhaust itself in murder alone, in which at some places even women and children were not spared. Rape, abduction of women, loot, arson, desecretion (sic) of mosques, forcible conversions, seizure of houses and lands, followed or accompanied the killing...We can say at a very conservative estimate that in the whole state at least 27 thousand to 40 thousand people lost their lives during and after the police action," the Committee observed.

Soon, the parts of the Hyderabad state were distributed among present-day Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and later Telangana.

Telangana Liberation Day

There has been a lot of political controversy in Telangana recently, after a decision by the state unit of the BJP, and its chief Dr K Laxman, to celebrate 'Telangana Liberation Day' on September 17.

Laxman undertook  a 'Telangana Liberation Yatra' and put political pressure on the ruling TRS government to celebrate the day officially.

The demand has been a long-standing one, even before Telangana was formed, with the TRS celebrating the day on a party-level in 2015.

Successive governments in undivided Andhra Pradesh avoided official celebrations to mark the day for fear that it might trigger communal violence.

Meanwhile, political observers say that the state government is reluctant to do so, as they feel that it would alienate their Muslim voters.

Faced with growing criticism, TRS MP Balka Suman addressed reporters earlier this month, saying, "The BJP is attempting to create a communal divide and instigate violence through the yatra. They are insulting our party and our leaders, which is not acceptable to us."

"The BJP may be a 'big regional party' of North India, but they do not have any standing in the south," he added.

The AIMIM too, has staunchly opposed these celebrations in the past, as they claim that Muslims were massacred disproportionately during the military operation.

However, the BJP denies a communal angle to the demand.

"There is no religious angle to this. Lot of Muslim leaders have fought against the Nizam and want to celebrate the fact that the Nizam had surrendered. Why should anybody have a problem with that?" BJP spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao earlier told TNM.

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